This past Thursday, I was Skyping in to an introductory course spending our requisite time plodding through Saussure’s semiotic basics. Having studied this ad nauseum in a Cultural Theory course last semester, I felt my attention waning more than usual. So while still listening to the course lecture, I traveled over to Twitter to see what was happening in this century. After scanning my favorite #edtech, I began retweeting items that I thought would be useful to my meager audience of 76 followers. Then it hit me. Oh no…..the prof is one of those 76 followers!!! Surely she would see the time stamps and realize that I was busy tweeting away right in the middle of class. How to save face? Do a specific “tweet out” to her with the pithy “what would Saussure tweet.” Instead of a nasty-gram, I got an equally pithy reply. Whew……..
Gordon and Bogen (2009) write of “the economy of attention” and I find this an interesting paradigm. Since I am up to my elbows in semiotics, I could not help but do a discourse analysis of the terms we use to describe the inequitable allocation of attention. As I was reading, I was reminding of Freire’s ( ) banking theory as well. Why do we see a cognitive function in terms of a material commodity? It that is the case, can I “borrow attention” or “loan attention”? Can I charge interest on it? (Now that could really supplement a teaching salary.)
I know that I can’t save it up for a rainy day or tuck it away for retirment. So why do we look at it in the present as such?
In the Cultural Theory course we discussed Walter Benjamin’s (1936) belief in the value of distraction with regard to mass consciousness in the age of film. What about online learning? Significant contemplation goes into the creation of distractions by the masses for the masses.
I have always had what people referred to as a “short attention span” in the 1980s. If I were in school today, I might indeed be riddled with Ritalin. Fortunately, I had understanding parents and a fairly good filtering system to know when to keep my mouth shut and just check out into my own world. Even in my mid-40s, I find it difficult to do just one thing at a time. I just get too bored. The distractions provide the momentary detachment that allows me to gain a glimmer of objectivity to evaluate my own cognitive processing.
I have always been amazed by educators who try to fight against the “distraction” of technology in the classroom. So what if they are on Facebook?
I have a FB account just for students to friend me. So when I was forced to monitor a computer lab at a language school (basic equivalent of study hall monitor) and was threatened that I need to enforce the “use our really boring overpriced ‘drill and kill’ software” rule, I would merely go onto FB and IM the offending student that if s/he didn’t pretend to be using the software, I would post a warning on the status update and the parents/DHS/FBI/CIA/INTERPOL would know they they are messing up.
You can’t beat ’em, so you had just better join ’em.
The trainers are trained and the trainees arrive Monday.
Back to the blogging fun soon.
More trainees: http://bit.ly/wXzwTJ
This one has sparked a huge discussion about issuing badges for AU online library digital literacy training. Been fanning those emails for 2 days now. Next step is working on the Vice-Provost who is very tech-friendly. http://chronicle.com/blogs/planet/2012/01/24/a-global-take-on-the-badge-debate/
Today’s digital natives and generationality discussions really helped to provide data for some of my intuitive observations regarding online learning. Boring is boring whether analogue or digital. Dr. Bonk’s decision/whim (doesn’t really matter) to go through the prepared slide presentation in reverse reiterates a key difference in the pedagogical uses of technology. Technology for technology’s sake is not at all an advancement. One speaker at CyberLearning2012 mentioned that (loosely paraphrased) technology can just allow you to bore even more people through greater geographic and time dimensions.
If an instructor is not comfortable with interactivity and chaos in a non-wired learning setting, the electronic dimension really changes nothing. As I was practicing my “continuous partial attention” during the more linear parts of the presentations, I realized that more than anything, the effective use of technology is still premised in the effective use of rather basic communication strategies.
I read Peter Elbow’s Writing Without Teachers in the early 1990s when Web 1.0 was still gopher-ing and ftp-ing at double digit bauds. That has been what has framed how I see the use of learning technologies. In many ways, this isn’t a revolution in any way greater than the ballpoint pen’s liberation from drippy fountains. Effective teachers have always known how to teach digitally and to supplement with relevant enhancements. Technology is just reducing the lag time in the delivery of these various artifacts.
Last semester I used Blogger and felt like I was finally on the downswing of that learning curve, so I was a little thrown by the missive that we would all be using WordPress in this course. However, now I think it is a such a great idea. It was much easier to subscribe to others’ blogs and the time saved in seeking out the various blog locales will be better invested in reflection and critical analysis.
This brings me to my first of many anticipated revelations about the opening of the world. “If you open one door, close another.” Part of what keeps educators on the fringes of the technology cyclone is the sheer amount of technology that we are told we could, should, or might be using. However, if we can help novices sift through these choices and advocate only the best solutions (at the time at least) for various daily needs there may be a greater willingness to take those first steps.
By having us all working in the same blogosphere, we are able to learn more of the subtle enhancements that work to help us define and negotiate our online identities.
Welcome to my newest blog endeavor. This blog is in partial fulfillment for IST R685- “The World is Open” at Indiana University.
I am a student in the Literacy, Culture, and Language Education EdD program at Indiana University. Research interests include: multilingualism in special needs populations; accessibilty in language learning; distributed learning; gaming in eLearning and mLearning; Content-based learning; situated cognition; neurolinguistics; cognitive sciences; affect in language learning